Despite Nigeria’s concerns and reservations about the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has predicted that if aptly harnessed, the agreement can boost Africa’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) by $44 billion and exports by $56 billion.
This is contained in a statement the Communication Office of the UNECA released after yesterday a two-day national forum on AfCTA held in Lagos.
At the forum were Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Investments, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo; UN Resident in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon; President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Mansur Ahmed and representative of the Africa Union Commission, Mr. Willie Shumba, among others.
The statement said the federal government acknowledged the risks AfCFTA posed to Nigeria, including that of rogue traders and trader predators, who would want to manipulate the agreement to exploit Nigeria’s huge market.
However, Adebayo said that Nigeria would not allow such unscrupulous traders
to manipulate the AfCFTA against the country.
Adebayo, who was quoted in UNECA’s statement issued after the two-day forum, said Nigeria “is determined to fully implement the terms of the AfCFTA and uphold its commitments on trade and regional integration.”
He, therefore, disclosed that the apex government had set up a National Action Committee to coordinate a wide range of actions at the domestic, regional and continental levels for a successful implementation of the AfCFTA.
He, however, said Nigeria would not allow smuggling and other predatory trade practices “to continue unchecked in the country as this undermines the nation’s development efforts and destroyed local industries, leading to job losses.
“We will not allow rogue traders to manipulate the rules of origin and disguise goods from outside the continent as made in Africa so as to qualify for duty free passage.”
From the studies, the minister observed that Nigeria “has established that the AfCFTA can facilitate economic growth and diversification through preferential access to Africa’s market for manufactured goods and services.
“Whilst we have rightfully been wary of the risks posed by the AfCFTA to Nigeria, we ought now to look at it with significant optimism,” he said.
The minister added the Nigerian Export Promotion Council had mapped out goods and services where the country has strong potential to export to Africa.
For the AfCFTA to have a positive influence on long-term investment in Africa’s productive capacities, Kallon emphasised the need to develop appropriate supporting policies, build requisite infrastructure and ensure an educated work force on the continent.
Kallon, UN Resident in Nigeria and Humanitarian Coordinator, said the continent would need to actively promote productive employment and decent work, women’s empowerment and food security, and reduction in inequalities.
He said that the UN “is here to support Nigeria to make the AfCFTA work for the county’s people, for the micro, small and medium enterprises, and for the women and youth entrepreneurs.
“To aid this process, the UNECA recently carried out modelling exercises on the expected impact of the AfCFTA on Nigeria’s economy, trade and welfare. They found that following the implementation of the AfCFTA, both GDP and Nigerian exports were expected to increase.
“The AfCFTA will be a game changer when it comes to stimulating intra-African trade. Nigeria’s exports to the continent would increase significantly by 10 percent or 15 percent in 2040, compared to baseline without the AfCFTA in place.
“The increase in Nigeria’s exports to its African partners would be most pronounced in agricultural and food sectors closely followed by industrial sectors, thereby offering invaluable opportunities to industrialize through trade.”
He said making the AfCFTA a reality for Nigeria would require creating national institutions for implementing the agreement, in addition to institutional coordination mechanisms for execution between public sector, private sector and donors.
Besides, the UNECA forecast that the AfCFTA could boost intra Africa trade by 52 percent, with the industrial sector forecast to gain the most. GDP and exports would increase by US$ 44 billion and US$ 56 billion respectively and AfCFTA could potentially increase jobs and move informal traders into the formal sector.